Percheron Slay

Bells on Bobtails

Everyone always asks us what we “do” with our Percheron girls.  Beside breeding, showing, riding and driving them, we love to share them with our friends and neighbors. Diving in the snow is one of our favorite things to do with them. But, to be sure, it’s a production.   We have several sleighs, but in a low sleigh you get a lot of snow blow back in your face from heavy weight horses.  So, several years ago we invested in a vintage bobsled with plenty of room for everyone.   A good friend of mine spotted it for me and he must know me well, because it was not only vintage, but it was painted in the most wonderful holiday green with red trimmed runners.  It has a terrific patina of use, from many sleigh rides throughout the year.  It looks like it’s out of a Currier and Ives print.   On a snowy (fortunately) Christmas Eve, my neighbor hauled it over to our farm with a giant red bow tied to the front of it.

Originally, bobsleds were used for more than just joy rides.  Up until the last half of the twentieth century, a bobsled or sleigh was a necessity in areas that received more than a couple of inches of snow.  Many of these looked like piano boxes, and could seat an entire family.  I am surmising that the original term bobsled came from the fact that for those bigger sleighs, they needed a team of drafts (with bobbed tails) to haul them through the snow.  We still dock draft tails today so that your lines don’t get caught in their tails and so their tails don’t get caught in farm equipment with disastrous results. We simply band their tails with a rubber band at 3 days.  

So on Bobsled day, we groom the girls in their heavy winter coats, harness them for a team hitch and load the bobsled with blankets, hot chocolate in thermoses (that may or may not include peppermint schnapps) and plenty or marshmallows and cookies. Where it gets tricky is the weather conditions have to be just right. There has to be enough snowpack for the runners to slide along on the ice or the snow.  The best time to sleigh ride on the road is right after a storm before the snow plows get out.  But as long as we have enough decent snow in the woods, we can drive along with no trouble.  We’ve had almost a dozen people bundled up to ride along with us and always a dog or two.   When the sun is shining and you get a few flakes in your face, truly, it’s an exhilarating feeling as the Percheron girls trot along rhythmically and the jingle bells around their neck jingle away. There is no other sound on earth like it!

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